New James Bond film catapults Matera into the limelight

Lea Seydoux and Daniel Craig, in Matera Photo credit: MGM/Nicole Dove 2019 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
 The world premiere last September 30th of No Time To Die, the 25th film in the James Bond franchise, has catapulted Matera, a small town in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, into the limelight. The film, starring Daniel Craig in the lead role for the fifth and final time and Lea Seydoux as Bond's companion, Dr Madeleine Swann, was directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. In the past, Matera's distinctive landscape has featured in several international productions, including Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, in 2003, and the Themyscira scenes in Wonder Woman, in 2016.
 This time Matera plays a much more important role in the film, featuring for the first 18 minutes before the opening credits. A series of romantic scenes with James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) were shot here, followed by powerful action scenes starting in the cemetery (purpose-built for the film), involving high-speed chase scenes with a Triumph 1200 motorcycle and Bond's trusted Aston Martin DB5.
 In Entertainment Weekly, director Cary Joji Fukunaga explains: "Mark Tildesley, our production designer, pitched it as a great location to start off the film. The monochrome nature of Matera already makes it feel like a large necropolis. There's a lot of metaphors there in terms of what Bond was leaving behind for the next chapter. So that's kind of how we got there.” 
 The production team actually combined two different cities in the sequence where Bond is ambushed on a bridge while he’s running back to Matera from the cemetery after he’s narrowly escaped a bomb attack that was meant to kill him. The Ponte Viadotto Madonna Della Stella, a well preserved two-level bridge built by the Romans, 37 meters high and 90 meters long, is actually located in the nearby town of Gravina in Puglia but it fits in seamlessly with the shots of Matera. Bond is attacked on the bridge by Primo, one of the bad guys secretly working for Spectre’s boss, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (played once again by Christoph Waltz), riding a Triumph motorcycle, and another bunch in a Maserati Quattroporte. Hanging on to a cable, 007 leaps off the stone aqueduct to escape them.
 Jon Pearson interviewed Paul Edmondson, the four-times Enduro World Champion and the guy behind the spectacular stunt scenes in the newest James Bond movie, No Time To Die, for Enduro21. This new Bond film has some spectacular chase scenes featuring motorbikes and they aren't fake.
 Bond films are famous for their action scenes and Edmondson was keen to underline his role in creating these stunts because they needed to happen for real. 
The biggest stunt scene in No Time To Die, from a rider’s point of view at least, takes place on the narrow streets of Matera. The sequence includes a spectacular motorcycle jump by ‘Bond’ off a ramp and onto one of the town’s main squares while a religious procession is underway just a few meters away. 
 Edmondson says there was hardly any time to practice. “This is where my enduro experience comes in. I basically I did a couple of runs just up the ramp to get a feel and then just went for it. You’ve got to.”  
 He described his experience in Matera where he used a Triumph Scrambler in many of the scenes. “You sit around for hours but when it is your time to perform and do the stunt, there’s all the crew, cameras, helicopters, and you have to be perfect. There’s no room for error and that bit, that ability to just be perfect when you need to be is normal for an enduro rider.”  
 Edmondson described his on-set relation with Daniel Craig. “Oh yeah, of course, he does some riding on the bikes, actually he can ride pretty well. He does the scenes where it is A-to-B so to speak and when it gets a bit exciting, C-to-D shall we say, we swap over.” 
 In addition to working closely with Daniel Craig - not only has he worked with the actor on all five outings as the spy, he previously he was his stunt double as well - stunt coordinator Lee Morrison told Jazz Tancay for how he collaborated with director Cary Joji Fukunaga to include action into the film while keeping story at its centre.
 “We went back and forth trying to design that sequence and get all the story points in too. That was important to Cary and Daniel, fulfilling this journey. He needs to get back to Madeleine as quickly as possible. Daniel thought it would be a good idea to get on a motorcycle. Rather than him being chased, it’s about him wanting to get back to Madeleine.”
 Morrison explained how one of the key sequences was planned. The idea for one of the film’s most spectacular stunts came from Cary and Daniel and they wanted it to be story-driven in order to avoid doing action for the sake of action. Astride the Triumph, James Bond makes a run across the city to return to Madeleine and retrieve his trusty DB5. With no other choice, he runs the bike up a stone staircase, then jumps two stories into the air, over a wall, landing in one of Matera’s main squares. 
 “The motorcycle jump scene took three days to shoot,“ said Morrison. “We had two days getting the lead-up and then the jump to the square. On the day of shooting, the wind played a huge factor. I was monitoring the wind conditions because that jump, as you jump up, you’re not traveling very fast for the flight. The wind was coming off the square and it was going in the wrong direction and it pushed the stunt driver away from the landing and he fell a couple of times during rehearsal. I had to constantly watch the wind making sure it was suitable for the jump.” 
 Morrison’s crew built Edmondson a 25-foot wooden ramp. The stunt rider had to hit the ramp at nearly 60 mph to clear the cliff below the village square. Landing the jump in the middle of the square posed another challenge: the medieval cobblestones were worn smooth, far too slippery for a safe landing.
 Luckily Morrison had a trick up his sleeve. The stunt coordinator told Henri Cesari for, “I’ve been spraying Coca-Cola on slippery surfaces for a very long time.”
 Coca-Cola works well for stunts because it is sticky enough for tires to grip. In addition, it will not damage heritage sites such as the Matera village square. “Coca-Cola even makes things look very clean after it washes off.” Morrison estimates he sprayed some 30-thousand litres of Coca Cola, about 8,400 gallons, around Matera at a cost of 60,000 Euros, approximately $70,000.
 In their interview with British Cinematographer’s Magazine No Time To Die director Cary Joji Fukunaga and cinematographer Linus Sandgren talked about some of the problems caused by the peculiar nature of the city that they had had to overcome.
“There were a lot of technical challenges we had to face,” said Sandgren. “We needed an entrance to the city from a tunnel ideally connecting the coastline to Matera and there’s no tunnel, so we had to build a make-believe exit. That way we could enter the tunnel on the coast and exit it in Matera and then transition into this segment using the best possible establishing shot of the town in a picturesque way. We wanted the perfect view for the hotel room and we were not allowed to build on that spot because it’s a key spot for visitors and tourists.”
 “There were decisions that had to made before the script was even done and we knew that our production designer Mark Tildesley wanted there to be this unravelling of the relationship between Daniel and Madeleine, and we just had to pick a location, “ said Fukunaga. 
 “So we picked Matera very early because we knew it was going to take months to get all the permissions we needed to do all the stunts. One of the first things we did when we came as visitors was find a place to locate the hotel. We discovered the site we picked in December, when there are no people in Matera but it just so happened that we’re not the only ones who think that it offers a good view. That’s like the premier viewing spot for the city and every tourist is guided to this place to take a picture of Matera. Except no one mentioned that to us when we chose it. So, since we weren’t able to build the hotel room on the exact site, the compromise was to build it on this scaffolding immediately below. It was a compromise for the city but it became a much more expensive shot. Because instead of putting the hotel room on that terrace that already existed, we had to essentially build a six-storey scaffolding for it.”
 Sandgren underlined “The idea behind this film is to have it play out the emotions in the story. What’s so cool with this location, I think Matera is such an interesting location storywise because it is a picturesque, beautiful town. We organized everything in order for our initial scene in the sunset to be extra romantic. The next morning, it’s still very beautiful and romantic and then Bond walks to the cemetery and suddenly the city changes into something really harsh. Then, if you’re gonna have a car chase, Matera isn’t the ideal town to be in.”
 Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, who once again is appearing in the role of Dr. Madeleine Swann, shot several set-up scenes in Matera, Italy, including a romantic stroll in the ancient town. The crew waited until dusk to shoot the scene between Bond and Swann to capture the golden light of the magic hour. In another night-time scene, that took place on the special built hotel balcony set, Lea lights a piece of paper and lets it fall over the balcony and through the air.
 Both of the above scenes are supposed to have taken place on the night of the Festa della Madonna della Bruna which takes place on July 2. Over 100 extras were used to recreate a candle-lit precession at the Chiesa Rupestre di Santa Maria di Idris at the bottom of the Sasso Caveoso. 
 In No Time To Die, the events that take place at the cemetery and the chase scenes with Bond riding a motorcycle and then, immediately after picking up Madeleine at their hotel, the chase scenes through town with the Aston Martin DB5, allegedly take place the following day. 
 Spectre’s bad guys catch up with Bond and Madeleine, in Matera. Lucky for Bond, he can count on his gadget-loaded Aston Martin to make a getaway. 
 The bad guys in a pair of Jaguars slam into the DB5, but Bond manages to slip away and stay ahead. Whenever they seem to have managed to cut him off, he drifts around a corner and drives off in another direction. A couple of times the bad guys close in so he drops a bunch of mines to slow them down. 
 Finally, the bad guys manage to corner Bond and Madeleine in the centre of a square. As gunfire rocks the bulletproof car, it seems all hope is lost. 
 Morrison explained this scene to “That came from sitting down with Cary, Daniel and Chris Corbould (special effects supervisor). We wanted this moment to play out where you see Daniel realizing he’s been betrayed and double-crossed, and he’s willing to let them get shot at. Chris is someone I’ve worked with for 20 years. We wanted to play with the first few rounds being fired while Bond is still absorbing the situation.”
 “We needed to find a location,” said Morrison, “where it might seem that Bond and Madeleine were trapped during the chase: Blofeld’s thugs have him cornered. We called it Donut Square. We knew that in order to escape, he’d do this donut, engage the guns and the smoke machine.”  
 Daniel Craig drove the Aston Martin DB5 in the town square, doing the “doughnuts” himself. 
 The DB5’s bulletproof window seems about to collapse as a hail of bullets keeps hammering into the glass. Madeleine screams at Bond that she hasn’t betrayed him contrary to what it may seem and frantically begs him to react.
 After what seems an eternity, as the bullets fired at close range by Primo are hammering a series of cracks in the Aston Martin’s window, Agent 007 finally flicks a switch, revealing rotating mini-guns beneath his headlights. He launches his trusted DB5 into a series of donuts while shooting up Blofeld’s henchmen, and then Bond and Madeleine disappear from the square in a cloud of smoke.

 [No Time To Die, Matera chase sceneCourtesy Universal Pictures, All Access]

 The pre-credit sequence of No Time To Die ends with Bond who no longer trusts Madeleine, putting her onto a train and brusquely sending her off, apparently breaking up with her forever, in the nearby fictitious town of Civita Lucana, actually Sapri. 
In an official communiqué, mayor Ruggiero de Ruggieri, said that Matera stands to earn approximately 12 million euros ($13.7 million) from the production of No Time To Die. 
 That figure covers logistic costs, catering services, transfers and particular services including the construction of two special sets. A cemetery set was built on top of the cliff facing the town and another wooden structure, representing a fictional hotel suite was built especially for the production, with views looking over one of the Sassi, as the two older districts of town are called. Both of the above mentioned constructions were dismantled as soon as filming was wrapped and most likely will confuse tourists unable to find the buildings for years to come. 
 Approximately 800 extras were employed locally throughout the shoot, which used 32 different spots around Matera and several hundred other locals were employed as temporary security personnel to close off the many streets and squares used to shoot the chase scenes in the old part of town.
 Some 400 crew members stayed for more than two months in Matera in hotels, B&Bs and restaurants.  Most of the shooting of the chase scenes that lasted for roughly a month was carried out by the second unit, with the first unit that included Craig, Fukunaga and Seydoux, only staying in town several days in order to shoot some key scenes for which the presence of the main actors was required.
 As a matter of fact, there is good reason to expect that as soon as the COVID-related restrictions on international travel are lifted, Matera is bound to benefit from an enormous influx of tourists who will have decided to visit the town after seeing No Time To Die. 
 So-called “film” or “movie-induced tourism,” is a rapidly growing and significant new tourism trend, in which the choice of the tourist destination is directly determined and inspired by movies. 
 Movie-induced or film tourism establishes a direct link between the characters, the locations and the stories of a film, and a special kind of tourists, who are seeking to engage themselves and relive the movie-generated and movie-driven emotions at the very locations where the film was shot. Movie-induced tourism has a positive impact on the global economic effects of tourism and establishes a new link between the film and the tourism industry, both of which in addition to delivering pleasure and satisfaction to the film tourist, also enable spiritual enrichment and a novel learning experience. 
 The film and tourism industries both provide individuals with a means of escaping the monotony of everyday life, breaking regular habits, stopping time, etc. 
 In the former case, while watching a movie, the viewer is enabled to enter a new world and a new story, encountering new heroes and characters, thereby experiencing a variety of emotions. Within the two hours length of the average film, anyone can partly satisfy their need to escape reality, without spending a cent and while remaining seated in the movie theatre or one’s own living room. 
 In the latter case, one actually visits another place, with its own particular reality defined by a series of specific characteristics. In order to do so, one needs to travel, to leave one’s home and to allocate the necessary financial resources. 
 The latest trend in scientific research regards the creation of a new specialization resulting from the fusion and the cooperation of these two sectors that already had similar goals. 
 These new studies began after the discovery that certain movies could have an influence on tourist trends and tourist influx data indicated a growth that was directly linked to the success of a particular movie. It has been acknowledged that these movies were neither produced with such an intention nor aimed at increasing tourist influx. They were no marketing or tourist campaigns or advertisements for certain locations or regions devised to accompany the release of these films. 
 Nonetheless, their screening unexpectedly caused a significant increase of tourist visits to the sites shown on screen. These fortuitous occurrences inspired the tourism industry to dedicate in-depth studies to this phenomenon, and around the end of the nineties the branch of movie-induced tourism was officially recognized. 
 According to Gjorgievski, Mijalce, and Sinolicka Melles Trpkova. 2012. Movie induced tourism: A new tourism phenomenon. UTMS Journal of Economics, “It is necessary to start building an 'intentional' strategy in the film-induced tourism. One of the leading countries carrying out in-depth researches and offering recommendations at state level concerning film-induced tourism is the United Kingdom (Olsberg 2007). A key finding coming out of this research is that ‘both film and television contribute to wider branding of UK people, society and culture, which has a very strong influence on creating a desire to travel.’ 
 The country seriously takes into account the influence of film upon tourism not only because of its worldwide promotion, but particularly because of its economic impact (Rob Roy and Braveheart alone led to a financial income of 30 million dollars solely attributable to tourism). 
 Other such examples are New Zealand and Australia, which became top tourist destinations owing to the popularity of movies. The screening of movies such as The Piano, The Last Samurai, The Lord of the Rings shot on the territory of New Zealand and Crocodile Dundee, Mad Max and Mission Impossible 2 filmed in Australia triggered a boom of tourists in these countries.” 
 Researchers have defined film tourists as tourists whose travel motivation was film-induced. Similarly, tourist film destinations are exclusively related to places, locations, events and characters promoted on the cinema screen. 
 Although it’s too early to predict how many tourists will be travelling to Matera to visit the locations they’ll have seen in No Time To Die, Materans quickly realized that there would be many new opportunities they could profit from thanks to the latest Bond film, and already every hotel and tourist agency is offering tours “In the footsteps of James Bond,” that offer the possibility to visit all the key locations that were featured in the film. 
Bond and Madeleine’s fictional hotel suite built on a wooden structure constructed in the Piazzetta Pascoli area Photo credit:
Bond doing “donuts” in Piazza San Giovanni Battista Photo credit: MGM/Nicole Dove 2019 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED